It’s the summer of a presidential election year, and we’re thinking a little more about politics than usual. At Democracy, we generally try to stay above the mosh pit of big-P Politics, but we did get to wondering as we were planning this issue how we could acknowledge the political season in a Democracy kind of way. Hence, “Decision 2024.”
We asked nine contributors from across the spectrum to ponder a very simple question. In 12 years, what will our parties and our politics look like? We chose 12 years because it’s a reasonable time horizon—close enough that some educated guesses can be hazarded, but far enough away that doing so requires real thought. And, being Democracy, we told them not simply to tell us—and you—that this demographic would have more electoral power, or that interest group might shift allegiances. We asked them all to describe the impact such changes would have on governance and policy-making.
The answers we received covered a wide and fascinating range. Electoral demographer Ruy Teixiera, one of the country’s leading experts in this field, espies a progressive opportunity created by new demographic realities—but only if we shift our economic policy priorities from security to opportunity. The writer David Frum sees a Republican opportunity in the years ahead, but only if the party becomes more like conservative parties in other countries. Gary Segura of Stanford argues that that the growing Latino population will move our politics to the left and force the GOP to make some tough choices.
Former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman anticipates a presidential nominating process that she hopes by 2024 will produce new sets of candidates, or at least guide both parties back toward the center. Harvard’s Nancy L. Rosenblum expresses exactly the opposite hope—that the parties can remain strong in the face of growing independence among voters. Pollsters Andrew Baumann and Anna Greenberg take up the issue of young voters and find that while they are in general more liberal and will shift our politics leftward, they may well force the Democrats to change their posture on a bedrock progressive issue. Felicia Wong of the Roosevelt Institute worries that the middle class will keep sinking, and calls on progressives to articulate first principles more effectively to keep that from happening. And respected blogger Kevin Drum is just pretty depressed about the whole business, but he does acknowledge a fighting chance that even conservatives will recognize the seriousness of climate change by 2024.
As we spend the summer obsessing over polls, clicking on Nate Silver, monitoring cable news, watching conventions, thinking that each new revelation or tempest just might spell curtains for our preferred candidate, we can’t do ourselves any harm by also spending a little time thinking about the politics of the future.